Book Review: The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

New York Times Bestseller fictional story about J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene.

This book is loosely based on the real-life Belle, J.P. Morgan’s librarian. The actual library is located in NYC (if you’re ever curious to visit). 

I tried to do some recon on the real Belle; oddly enough, it proved difficult. She never married nor had any children, alluding that she did this on purpose, given the racially charged times she lived under.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Breakdown: This story unravels from the first-person perspective of Belle, a Black woman in America during the 1900s, hiding her true identity while trying to rise up in the ranks within the elite social society (uber-wealthy). Belle navigates not only the racial biases during those times but also one of the biggest tycoons in American history, J. P. Morgan helping him find and collect art and rare books to add to his private collection. Belle’s mother, Genevieve played a pivotal role in denying their identity by passing her family off as Portuguese. This concept was quite the opposite of what her absent father wanted; a Black rights activist, also known as the first Black man to graduate from Harvard University.

Read it if: You just want to read something with sprinkles of reality, then suddenly drowns in fiction. 

Is it funny: Nope.

The cover: A beautiful backdrop of a gargantuan library and what we assume to be Belle in a stylish ox-blood-colored gown.

Do I recommend it: I really wanted to like this book. Some parts were informative and endearing, and you really did cheer for the protagonist, Belle. But then, it became predictable with little depth left. The story started to run superficial, and it completely lost me. I learned some new words, but I don’t think I’ll use them anytime soon. This book highlighted her personal and professional life, but it became messy and soap opera-esque. Maybe I was expecting them to stick to a more believable storyline about the true Bell Greene, but then again, this woman, who was she? History has very little about her, and it’s a real shame. 

Ultimately, the story is a “read at the beach” read but nothing more. Maybe this just wasn’t the book for me. Either way, I appreciated the read. 

Rating: 2 Stars ⭐️⭐️

Book Review: Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka


Since 👻 Halloween 🎃 is right around the corner, I figured sharing this book would be *chef’s kiss* for the Halloween theme. I’m not one to read thriller novels, but this one was fantastic! 

Genre: Thriller 🙂 

Breakdown: Readers will find themselves at the story’s apex and work their way back. The novel lays out the life of Ansel Packar, a serial killer on death row, told by him and the women who have surrounded his past and present. The storyline begins with the countdown to his death, the twelfth hour, where Ansel walks us through his thoughts and what it’s like to be on death row. Other characters include his family, work colleagues, and a detective with a connected past to Ansel, which we find out later in the story. 

Read it if: You’d like to keep your lights on at night.

Is it funny: Nope.

The cover: Purple, with an easter egg, quite beautiful.

Do I recommend it: Absolutely. The author made this book such an easy read; so many people I recommend it to tell me that they could not put it down! 

Every turn of the page makes you wonder where this story is leading up to next; it was so good.

What I loved most about this book is that Danya did not throw around fancy words that remove you from the momentum of the story; it was very conversational and intentional, which really held me in. Absolutely a great read; great job Danya!

Rating: 4 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book Review: Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica


After a grave virus eats away most animal life, Augustina’s characters resort to cannibalism in this dystopian universe.

Genre: Dystopian Fiction

I stumbled across this book and now cannot see the world the same again. This experience is life-altering, simply because there are severe parallels between our current factory farming and the world that Bazterrica creates in her novel. Human flesh* (a specific kind of human-bred meat) is nothing more than a way to feed and indulge those who can afford it.

Breakdown: Augustina does a tremendous job describing the characters and their headspace to her readers in this dystopian world. Once horrified by their choice to eat humans, the main character is now faced with living in their reality, working at a farming factory where they breed, kill, and sell human meat. The narrator describes the laws established to produce this meat, which they call “heads” and walks us through the process of treating them like farm animals. These “heads” are tortured, killed, abused, and without dignity (much like factory farming). 

Read it if: You want to be seriously horrified. 

Is it funny: No… oh no..

The cover: An amalgamation of a half-human and half-cow –terrifying.

Do I recommend it: I really do. If you’re not into horror or dystopian readings, this is a great one, to begin with. I am still recovering from it…

Rating: 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️